Understanding Diverse Types of Performance Information Use:
Evidence from an Institutional Isomorphism Perspective
Professor Yujin Choi’s recent article titled "Understanding Diverse Types of Performance Information Use: Evidence from an Institutional Isomorphism Perspective" was published in Public Management Review. Drawing on institutional theory, this article examines coercive, normative, and mimetic forces to explain the conditions under which different types of performance information are used.
Many countries across the globe have pursued performance-oriented reforms, assuming that systematic and continuous evaluation of organizational performance contributes to improving organizational learning and further enhancements of performance. This has led public organizations to face the ubiquity of performance information. However, there is still a lack of awareness of the conditions under which different forms of performance information are used in public organizations. To close this gap, this study examines the factors affecting different types of performance information uses (passive, purposeful, and political uses). Specifically, we incorporate contextual (institutional isomorphism) and organizational (organizational culture, leadership support, and information availability) factors to explain the conditions of different forms of performance information use.
This study estimates a series of empirical models using data from surveys of Korean public service organizations (2017–2018). We especially focus on the evidence from quasi-governmental organizations that have more than 40 full-time employees. Responses were collected from a personnel manager and a financial manager in each organization.
The findings of this study indicate that different types of performance information use appear to be influenced by different institutional forces. Public organizations under coercive pressures are more likely to use performance information to get financial support from external stakeholders such as a government or Congress. The government’s guidance and supervision towards public organizations appear to encourage the political forms of performance information use. In other words, performance information is externally used to show outsiders how well the organization has done. This can be evidence of credit claiming by public organizations and reveals that the use of performance information for legitimacy is influenced by institutional forces coming from a central authority’s direction. Normative pressure is significantly associated with performance information use for setting existing performance goals, allocating resources, and setting program priorities, but the direction of this association is negative. This means that public organizations are less likely to use performance information, especially for internal management, when experts or professional groups have advised them. Interestingly, mimetic pressure does not matter for any type of performance information use. This finding suggests that benchmarking public organizations modelled after other organizations does not enhance the use of performance information. Regarding organizational factors, we found that all three organizational factors – developmental culture, leadership support, and information availability – are positively associated with perceived performance information use.
This study has some policy implications. First, regardless of the purpose of using performance information, public organizations should have a strong leadership commitment and make their performance information available to employees, to increase performance information uses. Organizations should be ready to provide sufficient resources to employees for the collection, analysis, and utilization of performance information, which should be easily accessible. Second, organizations may use different strategies to improve specific types of performance information uses. For example, a flexible and innovative organizational culture would be more helpful in increasing performance information use for the purposes of changing work processes and acquiring legitimacy. Government guidance and supervision is a more important determinant of political uses of performance information.
This study makes several contributions to the existing literature. First, we utilize insights from institutional isomorphism, which is a deep-rooted theory in the field of public administration. While extensive literature on the antecedents of performance information use exists, only a few studies we are aware of connect isomorphic pressures to performance information use. Even if they adopt an institutional isomorphism perspective in their studies, not all three types of institutional forces are examined. Therefore, we attempt to link performance measurement research to institutional theory by examining the impacts of coercive, mimetic, and normative pressures on the use of performance information. Second, we consider multiple types of uses of performance information (i.e. passive, purposeful, and political uses) as well as a composite value of performance information use as dependent variables. Based on the typology of performance information uses discussed in recent studies, we expect to add more empirical evidence by focusing on how different uses of performance information are influenced by institutional forces. Third, although many determinants of performance information use have been investigated, the locus of the research is somewhat restricted to Western countries such as the U.K., U.S., and central Europe. There is a need for addressing this issue in different contexts with different institutions and cultures. In particular, the Korean government has been striving to develop a performance measurement system in keeping with the New Public Management (NPM) wave, since adopting the public performance management system in 1983. We expand the scope of existing studies by looking at quasi-governmental organizations in Korea, which has a unique relationship with governments and a centralized system.
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Yujin Choi, Harin Woo, Understanding diverse types of performance information use: evidence from an institutional isomorphism perspective, PUBLIC MANAGEMENT REVIEW, Pages 2033-2052, published online July 2021